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Authors: Kathi S. Barton

Tags: #General Fiction


BOOK: Jesse
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The Hunter Series

Book 3






Kathi S. Barton



World Castle Publishing

is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of
the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed
as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


World Castle Publishing

Pensacola, Florida

© Kathi S. Barton 2013


Edition World Castle Publishing May 10, 2013

Licensing Notes

rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in articles and reviews.

Karen Fuller


Brieanna Robertson

Chapter 1


Joey could smell the smoke as she sat
down on her makeshift bed. It wasn’t strong yet, but she knew that it wasn’t
because someone was having a fire in their home, nor was it a barbeque grill
smell. She tried to ignore it over the exhaustion she was feeling, but she knew
that if she tried to sleep now it wouldn’t be happening. Instead of rolling
into her bed, she got up and dressed.

“I swear, if this is simply a trash can
on fire again I’m going to move to another building.” Laughing to herself, she
knew that was an empty threat. There were no other buildings, empty or
otherwise, where she was. Stepping out into the chilly November morning, she
shivered. Soon, she promised herself. Soon she’d have a real apartment.

She walked to the closest building to
the one she was in. It too was empty of people, and almost all of the furniture
and equipment had been removed. There didn’t seem to be any smell coming from
this one.
Of course not
, she said to herself.
That would simply be
too easy.

She didn’t know what had happened to
these places, but was grateful that she had a place to stay until she could
save up enough money to get another apartment. It had been almost eleven months
since she’d been tossed out of her other one and she wasn’t going to spend any
more time in the cold if she didn’t have to.

Just before Halloween last year they’d
all been served. No one had had a clue that the building had been sold, though
she was pretty sure the maintenance man had. He’d moved out the month before
and no one had come to replace him or the broken down things in the apartments.
Then the letters had come.

Hunter Corporation had sent the letters.
It said that they all had thirty days to remove themselves from the property
and they were not getting any extensions. They had been given the previously
required ninety days four months ago and, basically, enough was enough. No one
she’d talked to had received any kind of notice ninety days or otherwise.

She moved to the third empty building as
she thought of trying to get in touch with the person who had signed the
letters. J. M. Hunter, Attorney at law was about as nice as the letter they’d
gotten and just as elusive. Even going down to the massive overly priced
building hadn’t gotten them anywhere. She had been “helped” out of the building
the thirty-first day after she’d been warned without any contact with a single

She was just coming out of the fifth
building when she saw the smoke. It was billowing out of the second floor and,
as she stood there trying to decide what to do, several of the windows burst
out. She was ready to sprint to the nearest pay phone when she heard the
screams. Damn it all to hell and back, of course the place wouldn’t be empty.

She noticed the nice cars in front as
she ran to the building. She had no idea what they were, not caring a fig for
cars anyway. But she did recognize that they didn’t belong in her neck of the
woods. She broke the window over the back door of the building to get in when
she saw the flames coming out of the windows now. The glass breaking was
covered by the sound of a small explosion, if one could call it that, and she
knew she was running out of time. Hurrying into the burning building, she was
hit by a blast of heat so hot it took her breath away.

Joey had been in this building once
before. When she’d been looking for a place to flop until she could save her
money. Not getting a deposit back had hurt all of them and then when the
utility company had told them that their bills hadn’t been paid in months,
something that had been part of the rent, they’d had to fork over that as well.
While she was familiar with the building, she still had to think about where
the stairs were.

Another explosion rocked her nearly off
her feet as she topped the stairs. She could see flames at one end of the hall
and just knew that’s where the screams were coming from. She started toward the
opposite end when she had to turn back. Someone started yelling again. She
found them in the room nearest the fire.

“She’s dead. You have to get me out of

Joey looked at the well dressed woman on
the floor and then back at the one standing in front of her.

“She died of a heart attack and I’m
willing to testify to that fact.”

Joey raised a brow at the woman and
moved to the one on the floor. Checking her pulse confirmed what Joey could
see. The woman was very much alive. She turned back to the other woman. “She’s
fine, and I can get you both out if you’ll help me carry her.” The woman was
already shaking her head. “You won’t help me then we all die in here. Up to you,
lady. I don’t really care.”

The woman on the floor grabbed her arm
as she stood. Joey looked down at her and could see that she was in pain. She
hunkered down to see what she was saying when she heard the other woman speak.

“She was going to leave you, Annamarie. This
girl was going to leave you to burn.”

Joey ignored her and checked on the
wound that was bleeding on who she assumed was Annamarie’s forehead. “You have
a nasty bump here and if you can walk, it won’t be accompanied by some pretty
nasty burns.” The woman nodded and groaned. “Yeah, I’d try not to do that again
if I was you. And for the record, I wasn’t going to leave you.”

She got Annamarie up without much help
from either woman. Joey was just starting out the door when another explosion—this
one felt right under them—rocked them all off their feet. Joey had tried not to
land on the hurt woman, but it had taken her off guard and she’d fallen hard. The
woman was out again.

Working faster now, knowing that they
were running out of time, she got the woman up. She wasn’t very big and, lucky
for her, Joey was strong. She was moving toward the stairs when she noticed the
woman who’d been a shit and not helped was headed for the elevator.

“Won’t work. In case you hadn’t noticed,
there is a fire going on here. Even if there was electricity in this building
you’d be better off using the stairs and not getting in an oven like that if
necessary.” Joey was on the third step when the woman stomped around her.

“I’m getting the hell out of here. You
two can burn the hell up for all I care. No commission check is worth getting
my suit all smelly for.” Joey watched her go down the stairs, thinking there
were all kinds in the world.

The stairs were catching on fire. Most
of the top behind them was hot when she’d moved over them and, when she’d had
to lean against the wall to rest a couple of times, she’d felt the rumble of it
starting to go. When the woman she had hanging over her shoulders started to
move Joey stopped and spoke to her.

“If you can walk, lady, we might make
it. There are at least two dozen more stairs to go and then the walk across the
foyer. I’m getting sort of tuckered out.”

“I can help. I’m dizzy, but the
alternative is not so good.” She moved her around to her right side so that she
could use the wall as support. With her weight, though slight, gone, Joey could
move her along a little faster. “Where is Sondra, the woman who I was here
with? You didn’t kill her off, did you?”

Joey wasn’t sure if the woman was trying
to make a joke or had heard her threaten the woman once or twice when Joey had
been trying to get her up off the floor. She wanted to be pissy at her about
how she was saving her ass, but bit her lip and didn’t comment on that.

“She decided that I was moving too slow
for her and she left on her own. I hope she was able to find the door. It’s
pretty smoky down here.” And the lobby was full of smoke.

Annamarie laughed then groaned again. “I
fell when the first bomb when off. I know it was something in the basement, but
it felt very bomblike. I hit my head and I’m sure I have a couple broken ribs. Did
you know you were bleeding?”

Joey had felt the glass dig into her arm,
but had been so worried about getting in and out of the building she’d
forgotten about it. She knew it was deep too, and painful now that she’d
pointed it out.

The lobby floor looked like it was
eighty miles wide. Joey had to more or less carry Annamarie across it, but
before they were halfway across another explosion tore through the floor and
flames erupted nearly on top of them.

This time Joey remembered to let go of
the woman when she was thrown across the room. Lucky for Annamarie, Joey got
most of it. She crawled back to the again unconscious woman and had to blink
several times before she could see the door. She was in pain now and wasn’t
sure she’d make it. Grabbing the woman by the legs, she mostly dragged her out.
She could just hear the sirens as she got her to the sidewalk.

And Sondra was nowhere in sight. Looking
back at the building, Joey saw her. She was in the lobby near the window waving
her arms and looked to be saying something. Joey just knew she was going to
regret it and started to rise to go and save the stupid woman. Annamarie
grabbed her arm.

“Where?” She closed her eyes again and
Joey thought she’d passed out, but the grip on her arm tightened when she tried
to leave again. “Where is Sondra?”

“I have to go and get her. She’s near
the door, can you see her?” Joey pointed and looked back at Annamarie to see
that she had either passed out or was simply resting. Standing, without
resistance this time, she went to the building.


Annamarie hurt. She heard the fire trucks
coming, but wanted her family too. She wasn’t sure she could see the numbers,
but pulled out her cell phone glad that, since leaving the building, she now
had a signal. She pushed a button, hoping she wasn’t calling for a hair
appointment, though she was sure she could use one and sighed when someone

“Kasey honey, is Royce around?” She
loved her new daughter-in-law, but was afraid she’d come to her aid with her
son. The woman could fight one-handed if the need arose.

“He’s in the den with Jesse. Want to
speak to him?”

She told her that she did. Annamarie was
afraid she’d passed out again when she heard her son speak. Not able to hold on
to her terror and what might have beens, she starting sobbing and telling him
that she was injured.

“Where are you, Mom? I’m coming right
now. I…tell me you’re going to be alright.”

“Yes,” she told him in a watery voice. “I
can see the firemen now. I’m at the empty building on Westmoor. The one we’ve
been thinking of buying.” She was babbling. “Oh wait, I see…what is she doing?”

She watched her real-estate agent come
out of the building with a large piece of wood. When she looked over at her
Sondra dropped the wood and took off running in the opposite direction. Before
she could yell at her, the fireman blocked her view. By the time she got him
out of the way, she was gone and Royce was screaming at her.

BOOK: Jesse
5.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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